Fittingly, I have just moved out of my apartment and have commenced my couch-surfing life. (My friends are letting me stay in their living rooms during my last week in San Francisco and they set me up with a Harry Potter themed airbed. They are amazing.) Leading up to the final steps of my move, I read Book 7 as fast as I could and successfully included it in the box that I was sending home. Phew.
Book 7 has a lot of things going on: the search for horcruxes; the legend of the Deathly Hallows; the mystery that is Albus Dumbledore; the truth about Severus Snape; the Battle of Hogwarts; and so on. What stood out to me were the expressions of familial love throughout the book. I think these moments were quite important, as it was this love that ultimately brought down Voldemort.
Another ginormous book (but thinner than Book 5, which almost makes this book look quite thin), Book 6 was yet another great travel companion, which I took with me to coffee shops in San Francisco and Palo Alto. I actually breezed through this book—except when I took a break when I was 3/4 through because I didn’t want to relive the experience of reading about Dumbledore’s death, which I have never really recovered from.
Given that the Half-Blood Prince is a Slytherin, this (post) is a tribute to my Hogwarts house, Slytherin. I am not going to make excuses for the evil deeds of The Dark Lord here—nothing can ever justify his actions—however, I am going to talk about Slytherin-istic characteristics that I was not able to fully appreciate when I first read the series (and this book in high school) but that I do now.
There is a common misconception that all Slytherins are evil, especially because Voldemort came from this house. It also doesn’t help that Slytherins are snobby and tend to stick to their own. Whatever. Not everyone in the house is a blood-thirsty evil person, but people in this house are not known to be brave either. (Slytherin wasn’t known for his courage as Gryffindor was anyway.)
So I bring to light some Slytherins and their strengths. While not all of them are good, not all of them are entirely evil either. May we all appropriately appreciate the characteristics that makes one a Slytherin.
Despite being the largest book I have ever held (an exaggeration, but you know what I mean), Book 5 has been a great travel companion. Over the last two weeks, I would lug this ginormous book with me to the Caltrain and read a hundred pages or so on my way to work. I had forgotten how funny JK Rowling was until I found myself laughing alone while reading this book. This book is supposed to be dark, too, but I love that the characters were allowed to be teenagers still.
I have to admit: I’ve always found this to be my least favorite book in the series. I remember the first time I read this. I had borrowed it from the library absolutely sure I could return it in a week max, but I couldn’t get myself to pick up the book and to read it for longer periods that I had to rush reading through the book to return it by the time it was due. (Or maybe I didn’t finish and had to borrow another copy? Ok, maybe I don’t remember that well.) Fast forward to 15 (WOW, IT’S BEEN THAT LONG?) years later, and I definitely looked forward to reading on each morning. I didn’t mind lugging the gigantic book around, and I even brought it with me on days I knew I was going out with friends.
What’s changed? Good question. Obviously it’s not the book that’s changed but myself that has. I guess I have learned the meaning of maturity and empathy and other things as time went by. It also helped that I knew how things were going to end anyway, so I was able to focus more on the fun fun fun details that I didn’t focus on the first time around.
When I first embarked on Harry Potter: The Grand Reunion, I didn’t realize that I was about to make my biggest life decision to date. In retrospect, it’s all coming together.
HP: TGR is split into two parts. Part 1 includes Books 1 through 4, which are full of wonder and exploration of the wizarding world. Part 2 will include Books 5 through 7, which, collectively, have a totally different tone from the first four books. Books 5, 6, and 7 are all character building, transformative years in which Harry matured.
I was about to go on my annual trip to Manila when I first started HP: TGR. As I wrap up HP: TGR, I embark on a new adventure back to a familiar place—after 6.5 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m moving back to Manila.
So let’s finish this grand reunion—with Harry through and through.
Book 4 was exciting. There’s the excitement of the Triwizard Tournament and the Quidditch World Cup, making us realize that the wizarding community actually has a wider reach than the UK. (I mean maybe entrance to other wizarding schools is ~30 years old, so I just haven’t been admitted yet.) Aside from the community, those tasks !!! The first task was my favorite because YES, HARRY, SHOW OFF YOUR FLYING SKILLS. FYI there were two other champions who also played Quidditch but, nope, only Harry flew. So simple, it brings tears to my eyes.
Raving aside, the other thing I liked about Book 4 is it’s transitional role in the series. Books 1-3 were pretty light, full of wonder and discovery. However, Books 5-7 were very dark. So Book 4 set a good stage for Books 5 onwards.
Let me expound.
The tournament and Harry’s luck throughout the book got readers excited. The book was very flashy and distracting with the World Cup, Viktor Krum, S.P.E.W., Ron and Hermione, and all of those wonderful things. Indeed this was the book in which I developed a soft spot for Dobby because his socks and wages were so out of the ordinary. Throughout the book, however, there were dark forces moving about, waiting for their moment to strike. Think: Harry nightmare-ing about Voldemort (I refuse to call it a dream; I feel like ‘dreaming’ implies something positive) and Mr. Crouch going crazy—these were kind of only moments in the book, only here and there, but not enough to distract from the glamour of the tournament until… VOLDEMORT IS BACK.
Everything tied in so well together, and Voldemort finally becomes something more than a shadow, that the series takes on a dark turn. We still don’t fully understand all of the implications because Cornelius Fudge is not buying into it, but the book leaves you wanting for more, and you are more or less prepared for the darkness that is coming.